Moon Phases


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chant a Nightwish Upon a Shooting Star

Once Upon A NightwishOnce Upon A Nightwish by Mape Ollila
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first heard of Nightwish was on youtube while looking for Pagan themed music. The first song I came across was a song with Annette Olzson on vocals called "bye bye beautiful" I also thought the band was an all girls band until I took a second look. The next song I came across was "I wish I had an Angel" To b e honest I could not tell the difference between the two vocalists and hence liked them both. In fact Nightwish got better with each and every record. I have been hooked on every single album of theirs. Sad thing is that female vocalists keep leaving the band. I wonder why.

The book traces their beginning even before they became a band. Tuomas was a dreamy keyboard player who put together the whole thing. He loved Donald Duck and Disney Land and he writes his music in order to take you to another world. Empuu is the hyperactive guitar player who may have attention deficit disorder by the sound of things. Always energetic and yet alll overthe place and forgetting things.Sami was the bass player who partied too hard and Jukka was the drum player. Tarja the female singer was the bands figure head and the most fragile of all the band members.

All of the original members came from Kitee, Finland. At the time of Nightwish's birth the metal scene looked rather dismal and Finland never produced much by way of good musical bands. Nightwish changed all of that. All of them received their training from Plamen Dimov a Greek ,Bulgarian who emigrated to Finland. Tuamos was not only the creative force behind the band he is also the one who got it exposure. While touring with another band he let some music producer listen to the music and he liked . From their they made it into an Album called "Angels Fall First" it garnered a positive response even if it was still a bit rough..around the edges. They toured a lot of small places around Europe and the community of Kitee was instrumental in helping this band get off the ground. Ocean Born was their second effort. A totally new and improved sound and lots of new exposure. Wishmaster being the third took things to another level. Tuamas could be a taxing band leader. So taxing that he pushed Tarja until she cried. The Wishmaster tour also took them to South America where they would run into Marcelo, a somewhat devious promoter.
Things in the band have always been heavy. The book gives you glimpses behind the scenes of what rock band have to got through while traveling.Substandard living conditions, sometimes no showers, living on a bus for weeks on end and endless partying. The boys got crazy and Tarja being a classy girl was not cut out for such heavy antics. The business end of politics is often behind some of the disappointments as album releases and tours are always postponed or cancelled. Even at this stage there was tension between Tarja and the rest of the members. Part of it was that a refined woman cannot put up with excess party antics of uncouth males and number two touring is very stressful.

Later on when Tarja would marry Marcello and he became her manager. He would not only advocate for her needs but also interfere with the band business. He torpedoed deals by asking for too much money. Tarja also began thinking that she was doing the bands a favor by singing for them. In a sense it got to her head a bit. Thanks to her and Marcello they would cancel gigs and wwhole legs of a tour. Tarja hated touring. They would go on to make Century's Childe and then "Once" the album Once really broke through for them and it seems that Tarja and Marcello were holding things back.

In the end the band let her go and in Finland it generated major controversy. The book ends off with Nightwish looking for a replacement. End of review. At the end of it all they got Annette Olzson who lasted for two albums and then left mid tour of Imaginarium. Now it seems Floor Jansen is with them. I hope they can hold on to this one.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dark Side of the Pagan Peter Pan

The Child ThiefThe Child Thief by Brom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great book! The man is both a talented writer and an artist.He also has done his research in the pagan past of Europe and the result is a superb novel. The telling is not Disney like at all but rather a turn into a darker side of Peter Pan. Of , course these days Peter Pan is getting a bad wrap cinematically speaking. He seems to be the bad guy now and Captain Hook is the good guy. This holds true for this novel as well.

The story starts off with a young girl shivering in her bed, fear stricken over the abuse her step father is about to give to her. Then a shadow appears to save the day. but not only does the shadow save the young girl, but he also kills the stepfather. Of course after such a heroic rescue how could any any damsel refuse.

Next comes the real beginning of the story. Young Nick is on the run from some drug dealer who are renting a room from his grandmother's house. Nick's life is deteriorating around him as result. He is subjected to abuse and humiliation that leads to a permanent scarring of his arm. In revenge he steals a bunch of the drug dealers drugs and flees. In central park the dealers friends catch up with him and once again Pan comes to the rescue. He beats the tar out of the bad guys and leads Nick through the mist where they are assaulted by sluach. On the way through Nick realizes that not everyone who has traveled through the mist was lucky enough to make it alive. Once they make it to Devil Tree and meet the "Devil"( instead of lost boys). Nick realizes that Pan is recruiting fighters for a war against Flesh Eater. The daily regime is of hunting and martial arts training. Within the Devils there is Sekou, a warrior woman, Leroy, who is a bully and ultimate bad guy who brings down the devils. Nick has got to learn to get along with these 'Devils" despite his misgivings and find a way off the island.

The flesh eater are really adult pilgrims who landed on the Island. The Island is not Never Never Land but rather the mystical island of Avalon made famous from the King Arthur tales. This island is the last refuge of the fae. It is home to all sorts of mystical creatures. If children come when they are small they remain the same and never age. Adults become deformed into greyish skin and black haired being. The magic of fae does not agree with them. They are burning down the forest and brings a scourge upon the island.

So Peter is acting as a recruiter for the Lady of the Lake to fight against the flesh eaters. Pan himself is half fairy and half human. He knows who is mother is but not his father. When his human family find out that he is fae they abandon him to die in the woods. It is in the woods that he is befriended by a woodland fairy who teaches him how to hunt and kill wolves. Peter also learns that humans can never be trusted. This lesson is driven home when he plays with some boys in the village. Once the adults spot him they chase him into the forest and kill his friend. In fleeing these vicious humans Peter ends up going through the mists to Avalon.

In Avalon a whole new set of troubles begins. Peter is at once favored by Modron the lady of the lake who minds the sacred apple tree. Ulfger an elvish demigod legitimate heir of the horned god who lead the battle against the Flesh Eaters and drove them off , is immediately antagonistic towards Peter. This leads Peter to being banished to devil wood.

In the end Peter tries to ally all the fae forces of the island and bring down the flesh eaters. Treachery prevails and many devil are caught and killed. An atmosphere of the witch hunt prevails which takes the story to the streets of New York. If you enjoy dark tales and stories that involve European Pagan elements then this story is for you.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Household Spirits of Europe

The Tradition of Household Spirits: Ancestral Lore and PracticesThe Tradition of Household Spirits: Ancestral Lore and Practices by Claude Lecouteux
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the medival times the house was a sacred space in Europe. The home would stay in the family for generations and it was a place that kept one safe from the outside world. In fact it would keep you warm, it was where you cooked your food and ate. So of course one would want to protect the home as much as possible. Usually this meant appeasing the household spirits. Of course in modern times a home is not so sacred. People are mobile and homes are made from pre-fabricated material.
The first part of the book is dedicated to the different parts of the European house. The most sacred part of the house was the hearth. It was at the hearth where the food was prepared and it was at the hearth that meals were partaken. The hearth was also the place of the fire in the center of the room. Often times this is where a household spirit would dwell. It was here that offering of wine, bread and food were made to the spirit of the house. Other places of importance that would house spirits were the attic, corners of the house and even the barn. Offering could be left and the sleepin space must be held sacred as the household spirit could vex , without injury, someone who was sleeping there. The chimney and the stove were also sacred places. By the chimney was the chimney hook and it was on the chimney hook that people would swear oath and perform magic. The chimney hook was alos a mainstay of the house. Something that kept it going so to speak.
Other places of importance were doors, window and the roof. Windows was where spirits could come in and out from. Protective measures of course had to be employed to bar a witches magic or malevolent spirits from entering. When someone died it was best to take them from the house via the window that way they would not come back in. The door was also a place where spirits could dwell. Sometimes a pentagram was painted on the door to keep the negative magic of the witch out. It was also wise never to slam a door as that would disturb the spirits. The roofs usually had holes in them and this could be conduit for souls. To stop a sorcerer from entering the whole could be blocked up or a whole in the wall could be blocked up.
One had to be careful which house one bought and where it was built. Near the road was the best place to build a house. Building near an open field or wilderness was considered a bad idea it would attract evil spirits. The house of a suicide or a criminal was also bad. Upon moving into a house usually an offering was made to the resident spirit to gain their good graces. To not have their good graces was to court disaster. Sometimes a family would bring a spirit with them from their old house.
Exactly who were these spirits? Some sources would say that it was the genius loci of the area. Other say it was the spirit of an former occupant. It could also be an ancestor spirit who chooses to stick around as a protector. Before the adevent of Christianity the household sprits were deities or Gods. Zeuss was the most common. Eventually these Gods devolved into spritis.
Some of the offering that were made could be food and wine offering but often times a human or an animal would be buried in the foundation of the house. The household spirits would provide a number of services if the homeowners were moral and treated the spirit well. The spirit would help with chores , increase wealth and protect from disaster. Of course when angered the spirits would choose to leave, impoverish the family or destroy the house. House hold spirits were are times called browning, kobald and alfs.
Great book the author accesses ancient European documents and brins it forward for the modern people to learn. Awesome job.

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Monday, December 16, 2013


Inventing Witchcraft: A Case Study in the Creation of a New ReligionInventing Witchcraft: A Case Study in the Creation of a New Religion by Aiden Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Inside the pagan community and without there is an on going debate as to the origins of gardenerian Wicca. On one side of the debate you have authors like Heselton and Whitmore who believe that Wicca is an ancient pre-christian religion that centered on a Goddess and God. On the other side you have authors like Ronald Hutton and Aidan Kelly and Tanya Lurman will maintain that Wicca is a new religious movement. Aidan Kelly’s perspective is unique because he is in fact an insider who practices witch craft. Dr. Kelley invented his own tradition of witchcraft with some other students in Sand Francisco. He was one of the founding members of the New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn.
Since he himself has founded his own, or at least helped found his own witchcraft tradition, he finds nothing wrong with what Gerald Gardner did. In fact it is a sign of healthy society that shows spark of creativity. At one point all religions were man made and at one point they were new religious movements. Many religious movements whither and die it is only those few that meet the needs of the people that end up surviving. Judaism, Islam and Christianity are examples and so is Wicca. The number of Wiccans and Pagans doubles up every two years.
Gerald Gardner made many false claims implying that Wicca was an ancient religion. Of course when new religious movements come about they will often claim they are the original or the corrected version that people are supposed to follow. All religions start this way. Most follower identify this and just live with the fact that historical reality and mythos are not necessarily the same.
Aidan Kelley put the written works thorugh a scholarly test to determine if there was any truth to Gerald Gardner’s claims. Searching through Gardner’s belonging kept by Ripley’s museum of witchcraft and documents held by Carl Wesche he was able to determine through careful analysis and detective work that Gardner’s claims were false. Among the papers he found several versions of the same ritual often with dyslexic spelling and cross outs. Many of the rituals had undergone revision. These are the signs of authorship not copying something down from a book of shadows. Almost all of gardners works were direct plagiarisms. Elements were lifted dire tly out of Crowley’s works, Lelands Aradia, Rudyard kipolings work etc. Doreen Valiente saw this and when she was intiated she rewrote almost all of it.
One things that Aidan makes note of is Gereald’s interesting in spanking and bondage. His new religion sanctified it . The book does a good job of telling the background story of Wicca and how Gerald Created it. I think Hutton’s book is more complete though. Inventing Witchcraft tends to over do on printing in the text and analyzing it.
In the end after all my research I have come to the conclusion that Gerald Gardner did in fact invent Wicca from available sources. His witchcraft is very much influenced by Ceremonial Magiack. However I do believe that there were precedents about for following witchcraft and following the Goddess that Gardner was not expose to. I enjoyed the historical excursion.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Yemenite Jews

The Yemenites Two Thousand Years of Jewish CultureThe Yemenites Two Thousand Years of Jewish Culture by Ester Muchawsky-Schnapper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Should have went to Amazon first. I paid six bucks at a used book store for this. Oh well, in any case this book is a picture book/ book on Yemenite Jewish life in Yemen. The book starts off with a historical outline of the Genesis of Yemenite Jewish culture in Yemen. Then it goes into their housewares, costumes, Jewelry and ceremonial objects. With in each section there are pictures of objects with a page worth of discussion on them.

Starting with the history of the Yemenite Jews it is not entirely certain when exactly they arrived there. Some believe that when King Solomon coupled with Queen Sheba that he sent down high born Jews and that began the nucleus of the Jewish community. Other contend that Jeremiah predicted the fall of Judah 42 years before it happened and that a group of Jews up and left traversing the Arabian deserts until they got to Yemen. Roman sources do document a Jewish community and an establishment of a Jewish Brigade down in Yemen.

Since the advent of Islam Jews have been considered a protected people and given the status of Al Dhimmi. As Dhimmis they were not allowed to carry weapons, banned from serving in the military. Their houses could not be taller then a Muslims house and their synagogues could not be higher then the mosques. As a result the houses of Jews tended to be more modest boing up maybe two stories at the most, while Muslims houses could be as high as 5 stories and were ornately decorated from the outside. Jews tended to build beneath the ground so as to create more room while satisfying Muslims requirements. In their cellars and basements they stored food, animals and valuables. Thee interiors were simple yet elegant. There were no cupboards but carved out spaces in the wall. There were no pictures on the wall or fancy artwork. Around their rooms would be cushions surrounding a central table. They did have a main dining room for festivities and their was even a sukka room with an opening to the sky for meeting religious requirements. Many houses were connected by a courtyard which allowed everyone to meet. Sometimes it was on the upper level and sometimes it was on the lower level. Yemenite Jews had gardens for herbs.

By and large Yemenite Jews lived in settlement just outside of the Muslim town. Their celebrations were kept on the low end. Their style of dress differed from Muslims as well. Jews had to wear sidelocks and their head gear could not be as fancy as that of Muslims. Women wore the gargoush until menses while Muslim women would wear a scarf. Muslim women went about completely covered while Jewish women showed part of their faces. The ritual Tzittzit.were made goat hairs. Men and women did wear trousers beneath their skirt like clothing.

Silversmithing was career that was dominated by Jews. In fact when they left for Israel they had to teach their craft to a Muslim before leaving. Of course after the Jews left the quality went down for a variety of reasons and one of those was imported good from India, turkey and the far east. The Yemenite filigree was famous. THe Jews also embroidered their clothes with cowrie shells and coins.

Some of the ceremonial object included a torah pointer. Their ark called the Hiekal was used to house the Torah. It seems to be more portable. Their stand for reading the Torah was also more portable. Their menorah for Channukah was a soapstone square with the required niches for loading oil and lightings.

Many of these items are housed at the Israel museum. Viewing material artifacts is a great way to access information about a culture. Enjoy.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nocturnal Ecstatcy

Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' SabbathEcstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath by Carlo Ginzburg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Records of the witches Sabbat reaches us in modern times through the stores and testimonies recorded by the biased inquisitors who tortured the suspected witches to get a confession from them. Historiean looking for the origin of these sabbats and trying to prove their veracity have come up against man y challenges. Some have thought the Sabbat to be nothing but invention of the inquisitors while others have believed that there was a factual basis to the reported Sabbat.
According to legend the witches Sabbat was when the witchews would anoint themselves with flying ointment and would ride a broomstick or an animal and fly to the Sabbat for frolicking with the devil. Now through out European history groups like the lepers, Jews and witches have been accused of poisoning wells, spreading plagues and eating live babies for rituals. The same accusations are repeated time and time again the only things that changes is the name of the group being accused.
Going back though historical memory there have been recorded night wandering with a Goddess called Diana or Herodia, Richella, or Oriente. She would lead a procession through the night stopping at houses to eat or drink if it was clean and offering were left for the riding company. She would have in her procession all sorts of followers, faeries and later on Demons. Now the Goddess occurred only in an area with a Celtic substratum. Places that were Norse or strictly Roman did not have this Goddess flying around.
Another source for this Sabbat or ecstasy would come groups like the Benadanti, Kressinski and Calusary. Based in Italy, Central Europe, and parts of Eurabia these dream warriors had the ability to shape shift into other animals, mostly wolves. The wolves or werewolves would fight against malevolent forces of the universe like witches and vampire in order to preserve the fertility of the land. Some like the Calusari followed Diana while others claimed to be servants of the Lord Jesus Christ like the Benadnati.
Some times there were groups of warriors who would fight for their town on the Astral plane to benefit their village against a rival village. These tnendencies tended to show up all over the place going from Europe, Eurasia all the way to china. The converging point comes from the Scythians who passed amny of these things on to Celtic Europeans and greeks. The Greeks had their ecstatic cult of Dionysus and the Eleusinian mysteries. The Scythians also had a goddess that was mistress of the beasts. Could this have passed on to the celts somehow and then to the rest of Europe.
The author then goes into the differing mythologies and makes note of how shamans had to have a near death experience and were often lamed in the foot somehow that marked them off. It was Shaman who did the healing and the fighting and the shapreshifting.
This book was fascinating. Carlo Ginzburg is not a neo-pagan or some wishy washy Wiccan he is a scholar and his work is based on solid research. Neo-Pagans should read material of this caliber.

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Vampyre's Guide to Protective Magick

Beneath the Sheltering OakBeneath the Sheltering Oak by Belfazaar Ashantison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one that you will definitely want to read , especially if you are into protections spells and what not. The book is full of them and that is the entire content of the book protection spells. There is no rambling here just straight to the point instruction on how to do your protective magic. Another thing I like about the author is that he keeps it really simple and easy to follow. His favorite protective incenses seem to be Jasmine and Sandalwood. His method is a bit different from what I have been used to . He first calls his quarter and then casts his circle. His candle and incenses are lit before doing anything. His outlook seems to be primarily Wiccan as he calls upon the Earth mother and Sky Father.
There are different types of protective magic. The two most common ones are shields and wards. Shields seem to be more of a temporary protection that goes around with the person being protected. A ward is more permanent and tends to stay in one place. Finally there are mantras which help being about protection that are used in a quick jiff if you need them. There are also more complex protection spells.
Simple wards are used with a mantra and connected to a place or object in the house. More complex may require a ritual of sorts. The thing is how do you decide which one you wish to use. Well four simple things will help. 1) Who are you protecting? 2) How much time do you need. 3) Check your supplies and finally, 4) How much money do you have? Fortunately there are ma y affordable magical actions here in this book.
With shield ones can link them to a hand gesture. Something like snapping your fingers or arching your fist over your body raise a magic shield To lower your magic shield use a dismissive hand gesture. The object here is to keep it simple so as it is easy to remember. Verbal commands are another way of enacting a shield. For verbal commands it is advised to use one to two syllable words and not long winded phrases. Also when making a command you should bark it out like a drill seargent.
Now let us go into shield techniques of a more advanced nature. First off you will need a white or red candle, incense and 20 minutes. First you light your incense and then you light your candle. Stare at the flame envisioning thoughts of being safe. Holding on to those feeling of safety see the aura around the flame and then visualize that aura around you. Imagine it is made of the densest material and that only you can control what passes through it. This shield can be recharged by any light source.
The Circle of Stones technique is a technique that uses the Earth mother power to invoke protection. First you pick one stone either quarts or opal and feel the entire stone in your hand. Feel the stone filling your hand with warmth and having that warmth travel to your heart. It’s energies mingle with your energies.
Now different stones have different uses. Red ones have very active energy that strengthens the body and will. Long thin stones are the male aspect and can be worn around the neck or hung near windows for protection. Smokey quartz not only protects but also clouds the vision of anyone who is trying to read you. Opal aids in whatever you like especially if you are not harming others. Foot shaped stones can protect the feet, while triangular stones can condound and confuse any bad intent. Citrine, salt, amber ,opal apache tear and smoky quartz can be used as a protective circle. For further references the author advises using Cunningham’s book on crystal magic.
Not only can rocks be used but also colors can be used as well and we all have our comfort colors. These colors can be invoked for protection. A nice spell was included but I decided to leave it out of the review. You can always read the book to learn I though. But a simple technique involves using a flower pot, soil, 4 larger stones and 24 smaller ones. Your large stones will be painted as follows North is blue, East is yellow, south is red, West is green. Now when the stones are dry with a silver paint pen draw in some protective symbols then charge them for there purpose. When done fill your pot with soil from your yard and potting soil. Mix them thoroughly letting the energy from your hands charge it up. When doen press down on the soil and place the stones in their respective places. The ares between the painted stones are filled smaller stones then you can place the persons picture or name in the center.
Chords of protection is a simple protection simple and I just love simplicity. For this you take a gfoot long red cord. In the Middle you say “With knot one this spells begun” then move to the left end and tie a knot saying “With knot two we shall see it though” Then go all the way to the right end and tie a knot saying “With knot three I gather energy” Then go back to the left between the central knot and the left end knot and tie a knot saying “With knot four protections at the core” Move back to the right again and between the central knot and right end knot tie a knot saying “With knot five protections come alive” Now move to the left between knot 2 and 4. Tie another knot and say “With knot six all harm is nixed” then you move right between knot 5 and 3. Tie another knot saying “with knot seven no harm will get in”. Now move left again and go between knots and 4 . tie a knot and say “With Knot eight I seal harm’s fate” Finally move right between knots one and five tie a knot and say “With Knot nine the last I tie no harmful intent will come nigh.”
Another quick shielding technique involves thirty minutes of your time, incense and a red or white candle. Light your incense and let the area permeate with safety. Let it also grow within you. Light your candle and focus on the flame. Draw the protective feeling deep within your body. Next focus on your heartbeat and then your blood and it’s travels through the body. Now take the protective energy within you and put it into your blood and have it flow freely through out. The protection is now within you.
Another quick and easy is get three red candles etch them with a symbol of protection and anoint them with a protection oil. Place them in triangular fashion. Light the first one saying “Lord and Lady I call upon thee with this first of candle three May protection be granted to ( persons name) Light the second candle saying “Thank You Lord and Lady for the protection offered to (Persons name) Finally light the third candle saying “I claim protection of the lord and lady with this third candles three. So mote it be , so mote it be”
Lamps and Lanterns are also useful. Mix the unscented lamp oil with these essential oils. 3 parts jasmine, 3 parts sandal wool, 1 part Tunisian opium, 1 part Somalian black rose, 1 part honeysuckle and 1 part patchouli. This could also be worn as a body oil for protection or put into a potpourri ring.
This review has given over but a sample of the protection magic offered in this book. I am copying other stuff down for my own book of shadows or grimoire. If you want to find out more read the book.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Canadian Celts

FellwaterFellwater by Brendan Myers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Katie Corrigan and Eric LaFlamme are at a crucial point in their relationship. A make or brake point in time when Katie is questioning their relationship. When asked about the nature of their love Eric of course being the typical guy answers it the wrong way. This send Katie to a couple of clubs and a bar where in she meets a dark and handsome stranger. Carlo Di Angelo is his name. He is the leader of a hidden house that dates back from Roman times. He wants Katie to be part of his house as Katie has a special destiny. He invites her to his mansion and takes her to the inner temple. Where in she is given a special elixir that knocks her out cold and leaves her disoriented for several days.
Meanwhile someone breaks into Eric’s apartment and tries to kill him. Going on the run he steals a car and gets picked up by some corrupt cops. In jail he is interrogated by a corrupt attorney named Nicholas who claims that Katie has been engaged with Carlo for quite a while and that soon they are to be married. None of this makes sense to Eric. Coming to the rescue is the House of Brigantia. Some lady named M gets Eric out of the mess and also helps Katie.
What follows is a wild pursuit of Katie by Carlo and several threats against Eric’s life. Turns out that the House of brigantia is a celtic tribe that managed to create a mystical grove called Fellwater. Carlo sort of wants that as well. Along the way Katie finds out that she is pregnant with a child, all thanks to Carlo’s evil doing. Katie is also descended from the Morrigan, another ancient Celtic Goddess.
Carlo believe that he is Jupiter incarnate. He has big plans that could involve both Katie and the child whose name is Tara. At one point Carlo kidnaps the child and a magical rescue attempt ensues. This leads to battle between the Roman house of Di’Angelo and brigantia. Katie is also told by M that she is to succed her as Queen of the House of brigantia.
The battle is rough with man y dead of both side. The trees take part in the battle and some key characters die both during the battle and after the battle. Always interesting to know what one thinks death really means.
The book was over all very entertaining to read and thoroughly enjoyable especially if one is into Celtic mythology. It shows that the author has done some reading on the subject of Celtic lore but the book does not go entirely into depth, which for this piece of literature is appropriate. There are sequels planned and it will be interesting to see if the Celtic mythos are more thoroughly explored.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Psychopomp of the Dead and the Thieves

Hermes Guide of SoulsHermes Guide of Souls by Karl Kerényi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book is classic especially to those who enjoy reading up on Greek mythology. The author who wrote the book passed on in the 1970’s and academic who was self-exiled from Hungary and lived out his days in Sweden. Yet the Greek God Hermes is alive and well. Hermes, the psychocpompos was active in the life of Karl Kerenyi, often times adding bits of fortune here and there and at other times sabotaging things.
Just who exactly was Hermes? or any of the other Greek Gods for that matter. Some modern scholars would narrowly define these gods as ideas or archetypes. Karl Kerenyi thought that they were more than idea or abstract personalities. The Gods were living beings and could be considered a world unto themselves. So Karl Kernyi goes about defining the lord Hermes.
Hermes is mentioned in the Iliad but not extensively as the Iliad is a story about fighting and wars. These are not the domain of Hermes. Destinies of war that are choses by men just are not his things. He is a god of luck, death and wild unplanned whim. He does soften the blow and instruct especially in thievery. When the slain are laying out of the battle field it is Hermes who summons their spirits to rise and follow him into the realm of the Dead or more apt to say Hades. That is what psychopomps do they guide you after you die. He also teaches Achilles how to enter the city of Troy and he helps a grieving father steal his son back.
Perhaps his best known area is depicted in the story of the Odyssey. This is a story of traveling or journeying not of wars. Hermes is a patron god of the roads and for travelers. The Odyssey is about Odysseus’s travel home. Travelers will move from place to place but they are adding more inches to their home as they travel. The Journey man will journey like he is floating in the wind never settling down permanently but always on the go with no ties. This nomadic existence seems to be Hermes specialty.
So far we have learned that Hermes is a guide to the dead, protector of travelers and now we shall learn that he is the master of trickery and the god of thieves. AS soon as he was born within days he steals Apollo’s sheep. Apollo confronts him but Hermes denies it. In the end Hermes is not only the lord of thieves but also the protector of cattle and sheep as Apollo appoints him that role. Hermes alos shows a cold heartedness to his nature by killing a turtle and making an instrument of it’s shell.
What are the real origins of Hermes? The Olympian mythology paints him as being the son of Zeus and the nymph Maia and growing up in a mountain cave of Cyllenica. In reality though he has rather pre Olympian origins that are rather obscure. In fact I would say that many deities have origins that are outside the Olympian tradition. Hermes may have had his origin in Northern Greece near Samothrace and Lemnos and might have been part of the pantheon Gods called the Cabiri.
Most Gods and Goddesses are paired up with someone, like Zeus with Hera, even if they are not entirely faithfull. Some diety couples do not last forever like Aphrodite and Haephestus. Hermes is not known for staying with one person. He gets it on with Artemis I and with Aphrodite II. The union with Aphrodite produces Hermaphrodite. People had Hermaphrodite statues in their homes and oft prayed to them and gave them gifts. There were also statues of Hermes designed to protect the home. Even Hecate showed her face in the home. Which leads us to the next Goddess he cavorted with.
Much like the maenad of Dionysus Hermes is seen as dancing with three nymphs. These nymphs are seen as being a representation of a three fold Goddess. The one who fits the bill is Hekate, Hekate is a psychomp like Hermes and she has wings. Both were worked with at the crossroads. Both in way were ambassadors to Hades. The Herms were altars at the crossroads with four corners. They marked property boundaries and lead to water. Offering were left there for Hermes.
It is a short book one that I finished in a day yet is totally loaded with information. Quite the enjoyable read. Definitely want to read more of this author’s work.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

History of the Jedi

The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the ForceThe Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force by Daniel Wallace
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is said that the fastest or at least one of the fastest growing faiths in Britain right now is the Jedi faith. It must mean that there are books about Jedi spirituality out there just waiting to be read by the avid seeker. Sadly this book is not one of them, although I expected it to be so. This book while not being what I would call a bad book left me a bit disappointed on several fronts.
For a kindle book it did not look like a kindle format but rather it looked like someone scanned in the pages of a fancy book. None of the usual kindle feature worked with it either. Such function would include high lighting and sharing to your facebook account. Another problem that faced this book in both kindle and printed format was the shortness or brevity of the book. Glance at the number of pages in this book and you will see what I mean. For such a short book the price was very high as well. Most books averaging 9.99 and if they are of few pages they will even be cheaper.
While not offering the spiritual seeker much it does have some value documenting the history of the Jedi for kids. Now we all know that the Jedi universe is not comprised solely of the vision of George Lucas but that of several other authors who have made their contributions. Let us clear up something else while we are at it. In the original scheme of things Darth Vader was not Annikin Skywalker. Much like the original premise in the first movie where Luke was informed that his father was killed by a young apprentice Darth Vader, the original story has Annikin named as Annikin Starkiller and he is a top notch fighter who gets killed by Darth Vader.
The book itself documents the historical rise of the Jedi on their home planet. They soon branch out and are forced to flee when there is the first of several wars involving the Sith. Their main academy is on Coruscant. The book gives a brief insight onto the Jedi philosophy and describes the path from beginning to end of the Jedi. Starting with the younglings who chosen at a very young age and then going through the Padawan stage, knighthood and then finally being a Jedi master. The book describes life inside the training center. Jedi do not just fight. Some are healers, some philosophers, other work with farming techniques. Alo on discussion are some applications of the force, sabre techniques and how a young Padawan would go about building their own light sabre. The book has several informative diagrams and illustrations that assist the reader in comprehending the material and light sabre techniques.
Through out the book are scrolling and notes left by previous Jedi knights who had studied the book. I do not know if this is supposed to make one believe the book is authentic or not but I took it as a joke like something to be laughed at. Well if you are looking for a history and over view of the Jedi then this book would be one for you to get.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hunting Vampires Over the Ages

The Vampire Hunters' CasebookThe Vampire Hunters' Casebook by Peter Haining
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Standing at about 363 pages this book has sections of different vampire stories giving the reader an anthology of sample to peruse and read. Stories are excerpted from the likes of Bram Stoker, Anne Rice and Robert Block. THe most famous Vampire hunter is always Abraham Van Helsing.He features in several stories fighting off the undead. I think in one version he loses it to a pretty girl. Van Helsing is not always fighting against Dracula. Sometimes is is new vampires. Not bad for an old man.

Some of the stories are pulled from Camilla and Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. Camilla is a female vampire that has been around for ages until she finally meets her match. In Rice's little section. Rampling Gate is a caste in the English countryside with a town set up around it. The father wanted it destroyed for some strange reason.In the end they do not destroy it but let it and the vampire living there remain. Guess not all vampires are bad. Some stories involve reincarnation. One lady was turned into a vampire thus freeing her soul into reincarnation. When she comes back during the 70's she cofronts the vampire who stole her body centuries ago. Another story involves espionage with the German Government putting Vampires in London to create an army of the undead to undermine Great Britain's army as young men of fighting age are turned to vampires. A nice fight happens in the German consulate. Still another story involves the deat of a werwolf witch who comes back as a vampire.

To say the least the stories are interesting and in most cases hard to find. If you are a hardcore fan of vampire literature then this book is for you, it will give you an avenue leading to some older vamp literature.Old lit shows the newbies how it should be done Vampires were not always these sexy hot guys and gal with fangs. They were the undead who smelled like a rotting corpse. They never went about in daylight and they certainly did not sparkle like diamonds. Holy water, crucifixes and garlic still kill these guys. Oh yeah and the vampires of old can shapeshift into animals, mist and what not. They can even control animals. Vampires have changed a lot since the old days. I like the old ones better.

A note before I go. Vampires share many characteristics with shamans, wizards and even faeries. Shamans and wizards can shapeshift into the form of different animals. They can even control animals while some have been known to levitate. Faeries cannot stand iron and neither can vampires. The Shamans of Europe believe that we had an astral body of sorts that could travel about separated from the physical body. Tthe old lore of vampires believed that the astral body sometimes hung around after death to keep itself intact it fed off blood. Think of the succubus and incubus who seduced people in their sleep and drank their blood.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Heart Warming Channukah Story

Nine Spoons: A Chanukah StoryNine Spoons: A Chanukah Story by Marci Stillerman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful little children's book that can be read in an hour. Gives a great over view for children about Jewish culture and the experience of a comunity under duress. Oma the grandmother tells a story of her childhood experience in the concentation camp. Nights before Channukah it is snowing out and the people want to celebrate channukah. A craftswoman who sews clothes and workes well with her hand is given the task. But she needs nine spoons in order to craft her menorah. Spoons are like gold and people do not part with them easily. So the race is on to find the spoons. Will they make it? Along the way miracles occur. People show solidarity by giving up their precious spoons. SOme are found by miracle on the ground and some are pilfered from Nazis. The community is involved but they must do it without the Nazi guards finding out.

A heartwarming story about solidarity and community unity in the face of adversity. Enjoy

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Friday, November 1, 2013

Feeding into Darkness

Embracing the Darkness: Understanding Dark SubculturesEmbracing the Darkness: Understanding Dark Subcultures by Corvis Nocturnum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just got through reading “Embracing the Darkness” by Corvis Nocuturnum. Got it as a digital loan from Amazon. Suffice to say this is one book I will heartily recommend with no reservations although there is some room for improvement. The book serves as a guide and explanation of the various dark cultures and it explains them in good depth by use of historical explanation and interviews. The book is a real eye opener for white lighters or someone totally unfamiliar with the various Wiccans and Christians.
For someone like me who has read up quite a bit on dark cultures there is nothing new here or not much but that should not detract from the books value. As it does turn you on to some great new reading material, organizations and recorded music. I only wish I could go more in depth with this book. The kindle edition does suffer rather greatly in some areas from poor editing. They should brush up on that.

Dark cultures are often times misunderstood. People dressing in black with multiple piecing and being into vampires and magic is rather a turn off for most and that is because they do not understand the dark cultures. Life is filled with pain more so for some than others. To strengthen ourselves we must not deny our shadow self but embrace it to make ourselves whole. The diffent sub cultures do not fit into tiny little boxes but rather they over lap. A Goth is not just a goth but could be a Satanist and a vampire at the same time.

The first culture to be discussed is Goth or Gothic. The author seems to feel that most people who dress in black are poseurs who into it just to be chic. No less I remember Goth coming out in the 80’s and being a heavy metaller myself did not pay them too much mind. These people tended to be quiet and melancholy realizing that life was not all fun and games. That was ok. There were two types of Goths . The Apollonian Goths tended to be more quiet and withdrawn gravitating towards creativity. Apollo was the god of poetry. Dionysian Goths were the wild party types. The movement sort of faded out and has recently resurfaced. The old schoolers do look upon the newbies with a measure of disdain but the internet could help bridge that gap.

The next area he dives into is dark pagan. Those Pagans who like to work at night with darker and more Cthonic deities. Some Ceremonial Magicians definitely fall into this and even fewer Wiccans. Goddesses like Hecate, Erkigal and other dark goddess form are worked with as are gods like Hades and Loki. There is an interview with an follower of Asatru or those who follow the Norse way. The Norse path is often frowned upon by a false notion of being associated with the Nazis. The curse of anything being Germanic. Asatru followers are a warrior path that believe in living with strength and honor. One of my favorites Konstantinos and John Coughlin are mentioned and quoted as sources but missing are the likes of Raven Digitalis and Edred Thorrson …Oh come on.

The next subset is Vampyre. Some Vampyres do like to drink blood and they are Sanguinarian Vampyres, but most tend to feed off of people’s extra psychic energy. Temple of the Vamire is interviews along with Michelle Belanger and Father Sebastian. I have read the works of Father Sebastian and Michelle Belanger both of whom disdain blood drinking and believe in energy consumption. Michelle is into straight up energy work wile Father Sebastian is a fang smith who like high ritual. Temple of the Vampire does believe in elitism and their ideology borrows heavily from Anton La Vey’s Church of Satan.

Which leads to the next subset. Satanism. No this is not devil worship where babies and animals are slaughtered on an altar. That is a false notion. Anton La Vey found the church of Satan and as followers of the Left Hand Path they are into deifying the self and not giving their power away to other deities. They believe that a certain class of higher evolved individuals will bee drawn to their ideology. With a disdain for weakness they frown upon begging for charity and giving t the undeserving. People want to enjoy things then they must earn it.

BDSM and Dark metal are covered next. Tying someone up and spanking them is viewed by many as a form of violence. In fact quite the opposite it is performed with consenting adults as a form of play and therapy. Safe words are installed to stop things from going too far. Black Metal or Death metal with heavy guitar riffs and dark lyrics is another dark culture. Starting out in Scandinavian countries it is associated with Church Burnings.The band members of varying bands have connections to Asatru, Satanism and Vampirism.

The Last area covered are the groups that help victims of abuse. There are several and people in dark cultures do need organization to help them with drug addiction, drug abuse and child abuse and they need it from a non judgemental indivividual who understands their background.

Definitely want to read more of this author’s works and I hope he comes out with more in depth material. I will read

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Friday, October 25, 2013

History of Witchcraft in America

America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After SalemAmerica Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After Salem by Owen Davies
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author Owen Davies has written several good books in on magical and pagan subject . His work is both scholarly and objective . The book is entertaining and easy to read. His points are supported by stories and case examples.

Since the witch burnings in the British colony Salem, Massachusetts close to the present day witches or suspected witches were persecuted in one form or another . Several laws were on the books that called for the penalizing of suspected witches. While in post Salem America they were not necessarily killed they could still face flogging , jail time and the stockade.

After a bit of time legalized persecution of witches seemed to cease but suspected witches could still be victimized by vigilante and mob actions . At this point it became needed for the law to prosecute those who tormented suspected witches. Such vigilantes could be sued , jailed and even sentenced to death when a murder was involved.

Some might find it hard to believe that people were so afraid of witches during the late 1800's and early 1900's that they would be willing to go to such measures . All the races that lived in America ;Native American, African American and white European had a vision of witches as evil doers and bringers of bad luck. It also meant death for the witch.

In the 1950's the wheels of history would turn and the view of the witch would change. Coming out with a debatable historiography Gerald Gardner would explain that witches were a hold over if a pagan religion which worshipped a goddess and god. There wirks were if good . Wicca would come to America via the witch Sybil Leek. Wicca would be adopted by America and be changed by feminism and and environmentalism. Now witchcraft and Wucca are an accepted part of the American landscape.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Iranian Goddess of Love and War

Anahita: Ancient Persian Goddess and Zoroastrian YazataAnahita: Ancient Persian Goddess and Zoroastrian Yazata by Payam Nabarz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Payam Nabarz has compiled a nice size collection of authors and essays about the
Mazdean Goddess Anahita. Starting out as the head goddess in the Iranian Mazdean
religion Anahita found herself fluctuating in importance depending on the
religio-politics of the time .

Despite the fact that Iran is a Muslim country traces of Anahita's reverence can
still be seen. Pregnant women go to her shrines for a safe and easy delivery.
Female saints are bit thin disguises of who she is.

Often times compared to the Mesopatamian Ishtar or Inanna. She is a goddess of
love and war. Her symbols include the eight pointed star, Lions, beaver pelt and
sword sheath hanging from her side.

Like Aphrodite and Venus she is also a goddess of water. Being most likely a
river goddess, many shrines were dedicated to her that were right beside rivers
and hot springs. The hot springs with there varying Radon and mineral content
were often used for hydrotherapy. Her planet is Venus so Anahita is a Venusian
goddess .

Zarathustra came up with Zoroastrianism . Zoroastrianism is the monotheistic
version if Mazdeanism. Ahura Mazda is the head god while Ahriman is like the
devil. Such religious ideology had a massive impact on monotheistic religion
like Judaism.

Even with the elimination of many gods Anahita found herself at the second place
if the trinity. She is the virgin mother of Mithras. Bestower of sovereignty by
bequeathing the sword and rings of power.

Reading through this book you will see the Iranian influences if Iran on Western
Pagsnism, Christianty and Far Eastern Buddhism. Lady Anahita is the lady and
Mithras is The Lord .

In this book you will also find surveys of art work dedicated to Anahita and of
her . The meaning of her name will be discussed as well. Very thorough and
comprehensive book. You can get it at a good price from Amazon Kindle.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Shapiong of Midguard...Tolkien Style

The Shaping of Middle-Earth (The History of Middle-earth, #4)The Shaping of Middle-Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once again I feel like I am rereading part of JRR Tolkien’s Silmarrillion for the umpteenth time. I read these books to get some stories that somehow never made it to publication. What I get are differing versions of the same stories sometimes with similar event and at other times with different event. Though the names may change the song remains the same.
In this volume Christopher gives us a tales from the Early Silmarilion, the Quenta, Ambarkanta, Earliest annals of Valinor and the Earliest Annals of Beleriend. This volume takes us all the way till the end of the first age. Starting with the Valar coming down to Arda and Melkor’s rebellion. We are taken through the capturing of Melkor by Tulkas and the awakening of the Elves an being lead to Valinor by Orome the Vala of the Hunt. We are told how when Melkor was released he deceives the Noldoli called Gnomes into turning against the Valar. Oh by the way there were three groups of elves that came to Valinor. The Quenda, who were lead by Ingwe, Teleri, and the Noldoli, who were lead by Finwe. By the way with the Noldoli there are enough names beginning with F to remember that it can get rather confusing. In any case after Melkor is freed he goes about destroying the two trees with the help of Ungoliant. From them the Silmarrion are created. He covets those as well and steals them. Later on when Ungoliant and Melkor feud over splitting the Silmarils, Melkor slays Ungoliant. Melkor holes up in Angaband creating Orcs, Balrogs and Dragon.
Feanor who crafted the Jewels wants them back so he and his Noldoli steal ships from the Teleri and go there. The Gods try to stop them and make them ask for pardon but to no avail. They reach the northern wastelands and wage war against Angaband. Gothmog the head Balrog clays Feanor and Maidros his eldest son his hung suspended by his wrist only to be rescued later on. Manwe in the mean time send Throndor the Eagle to keep an eye on things. The Valar have disavowed the Noldoli who went to the Earth. Aule is especially upset with them. Over the years there will be many battle/
The tale of Beren and Luthien is retold as is the Lay of Hurin’s Chikldren. The Fall of Gondolin is reiterated once again as well. At least this time we are treated to a conclusion. Beren and Luthien gave birth to Elwing , while Tuor and Idril would give birth to Earedel. Survivors of Gondolin and Thingols realm would marry and from that birth Dior would be born. Maidros a son of feanor vows to ge the Silmarils back and there is a fight. Elwing takes off in the flight of a bird while Earedel builds Wingalot, a swan shaped boat. Earedel will contact the Valar on behalf of man and elf and Manwe’s son will take on Melkor. We all know the end that evil loses and good wins but there is a prophecy that the light of the two tree Silpion and Laurelin will return, the Gods will reign over all and man and elf shall dwell side by in the end of days. All this happens after Melkor’s return and a final battle. Until then Melkor is locked beyond the doors of time bound by hand and foot.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

House of Asterion

ThroneThrone by Phil Tucker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fairy story worthy of mention perhaps in league with the works Laini Black, Holly Block and Melissa Marr. While I would not put these fairy writer on par with Stephen King or Edgar Allan Poe it does make for some exciting reading. The fairy world here is filled with both light and dark. The fae here are very believable and for all those Pagans out there the phooka is a bad guy.

There are two tales that run independently then intersect at the end. The story starts of with Maribel coming to a hospital in Barcelona totally hysterical. She has miscarried in the hospital and she cannot come to terms with her loss. She believes her baby Sofia is alive somewhere. She even sees a dark shape abduct the daughter. While in the park she comes into contact with the horned phooka who tells her the one who abducted her child is named Kubu. The phooka is a trickster. The phooka and a trister aid her in finding her child

Maya is an immigrant from Brazil forced to work in sweatshops, and as underpaid work in restaurants. Harassed in many ways when she decides to fight back she find herself unemployed and things are going down hill. She dances with the Greenman in the park and end up with some pretty cool abilities. When she is locked away she escapes into fairy land . Guided by the Old Oak and Guillame the fox she is pursued by a knife wielding psycho fairy.

In the end it is a battle between the Seelie and the Unseelie court. Mourning and loss can bring out our darker aspects. Just when it seems evil is about to win , the reclamation of humanity and love ultimately win out. Both Maribel and Maya have a part to play.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Working with the Mighty Dead

The Mighty DeadThe Mighty Dead by Christopher Penczak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Working with the Mighty Dead

Many of today’s witches are Wiccan or at least eclectic pagan who work with man y God’s , Goddesses and thought forms. The witches of old most likely did not work with deities strictly but with the spirits of the dead. My first reference to the mighty dead came through the teaching of CED witchcraft which taught that the dead have their spirits sent to the cauldron of Ceridwen where in it dissolved into a big soup. When another soul was born it was born deaf,mute and no memories. The mighty dead got to hold on to their identity.
Gerald Gardner made a scant reference to the mighty dead as did Doreen Valiente, the idea really never took hold in Modern Witchcraft. That is changing, with the recent surge of interest in Traditional British witchcraft people are becoming more aware of the Mighty Dead. But who are the mighty dead.
Theosophy which has played a major role in the formation of Wicca and ceremonial Magic. Often spoke of Secret Adepts, The Great White Brother Hood and the Secret Council. Some believe that these inner plane adepts , or ascended masters were once people who evolved to a point where they become masters who over see the running of the planet. Different tradition have different name and functions for these ascended masters. Some believe they are human incarnate but hidden somewhere on this planet while others believe that they are alive only in spirit form.
The Mighty Dead can also be ancestor who we came from. There are many types of ancestor the most well known is that of the blood and family. There are other types of ancestors. Milk and Honey Ancestors are those adopted just us into their family line. There are ancestors who came before us in certain occupation, ancestors of the coven or spiritual tradition and finally ancestors of the land or the bone.
The ancestors were important to spiritual working as they often had our best interests at heart. Their bodies were often buried on family property . The Mesopotamians buried them underneath their house while standing up straight. In Egypt Pharoahs and soon nobility were mummified and preserved so they could venture to the afterlife in tact. Wicca believes in reincarnation how can the soul hang around. That is easy because the soul has three parts.
The higher self or our holy guardian angel is heavenly and uses the life on earth to aquire heavenly knowledge in order to evolve. It goes to it’s own place after death. The Middle Part is our personality or identity. The lower soul which is earth bound corresponds to the ancestors or tribe. The lower soul houses our drive and instinct and we get much knowledge from our DNA. People buried in the land can become guardian spirits of the land. They too are our ancestors from where we live.
The book has several exercise and rituals which help us to ascend and contact these masters. I di not plan on using this book extensively but I pulled several good things from it.
Perhaps a new prayer for making offerings
“ A Libation to the Ancient ones. Ishi Baha”
There are references to some real good books. For example “The Dream Assembly” by Howard Shwartz. This book talks about ascended Hassidic masters called literally the Dream assembly which thye run the world and guide the affair of man.
“Kali’s Odiyya: A Shaman’s True Story of Initiation” talks about Hindu sorcerers who escape the clutches of time and space Through mystical practices.

A great recipe for a cleansing spirit flames would involve the use of 4 oz of 90 proof rubbing alcohol, 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt, 5 drops of Lavender Oil, 5 drops of Lemon Oil and 3 drops of Rosemary Oil. Great for cleansing an outside ritual of negative spirits. Spirits could also be appeased by leaving offering so they will not be tempted to disturb you. There are also banishing rituals to clear the area of unwanted spirits and ways of helping discarnate souls traverse to other side. The forgotten dead can be troublesome or helpful always remember them in your rituals.

If the review piques your interest let me suggest that you get the book for there is a whole lot more contained with in it’s pages. The material covers ceremonial magic, Wicca, Traditional British Witchcraft and Theosophy.
Perhaps a couple of recipes before I go
Vinum Sabbati: Take 1 full bottle of red Wine, Teaspoon of Mugwort, teaspoon of Wormwood, teaspoon of dandelion root, teaspoon of poppy seeds and one table spoon of honey. Put them together and let simmer for thirteen minutes. Cool it then strain it.
Mighty Dead Incense
3 parts Myrrh, 2 parts Dragon Blood, 1 part worm wood, 1 part mullein leaf,1/2 part tobacco, ½ part thyme, 3 parts red wine, 1 part brandy, ½ part brandy.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Modern Life of a Greek God

The Tales of Pan: Three in the WoodsThe Tales of Pan: Three in the Woods by T.J. Richmond
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not exactly primo literature or anything that will go down as a classic. But if you are a pagan or enjoy Pagan themes you may find this book enjoyable that is if you into strong erotic content. The actual story itself is about 26 pages long, shorter than most magazines.
Young Mary decide to go camping in the woods one night and nestles herself in the hollow of a giant red wood. In the woods she feels herself being spied out by several observing eyes, She believes elves o0r faerie folk are watching her. James another camper also spies her out. He approaches her with a ritual dance and what follows after ward is a feast of love making. All this gets observed by the Greek God Pan. He possesses James, observes and even joins in at one point. When the lovers are asleep he sprinkles dust on them to increase their feeling for each other. Later on his maenad Ava will join in.
The two end up spending several days in the forest. When they leave they take off in James RV but not before Pan gives them a gift. Reed flutes which can be used to summon him anytime. The story ends off with them leaving into the sunset.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

History of the Coptic Church

Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for ModernityMotherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity by Samuel Tadros
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mother Land lost gives the reader a broad yet very through history of both Egypt
and that of the Coptic Christians who dwell there . The histories appear to be
seperate yet intertwine at certain points.

Coptic history has been filled with sacrifice and martyrdom . Owing to
oppression from first the Catholic Church and then later Islamic fundamentalism
, the Copts have faced a long upward struggle for equality .

Christianity was brought to the city of Alexandria by the apostle Mark. he
stayed with a craftman named Athanius. Athanius and his family would later
become devoted Christian and set up an institution of higher learning. All this
happened during a period of intense turmoil between the Persians and the Romans.

Even when things were settled the Copts did not have an easy time of it. The
Arian schism and the Nestorian schism placed the Coptic church at odds with the
Roman Catholic Church and the Byzantines. This would lead to discrimination and
persecution by the Catholics when they had control over Egypt.

The advent of Islam saw the Arab conquest of Egypt. Some would say that the
Copts welcomed the Arab and others would say that at best they were ambivalent .
Under Islamic rule the Copts were granted a second class status if the Dhimmi.
This arrangement forced them to pay a special tax and limited the jobs
available. They also required permission to build a new Church or renovate and
old one.

Under Arab rule the Coptic church fossilized . They held administrative and
bureaghcratic positions as they were needed to run things . But as time
progressed there were more Muslims to take those positions. The Copts began
losing jobs .

As their material position began to decline so to did their culture . Many
forget Coptic and the church began having their services in Arabic.

The Copts were taxed excessively. The taxes were used to pay for military
adventures and enrich someone else's coffers. This would impoverish the Coptic
community and many would convert to Islam to escape the heavy taxes.

This would continue under Maneluke rule and Ottoman rule. The practice of Simony
developed where in the pope would take money or bribes for promoting bishops and

Under Muhammad Ali, a Turkish governor , Egypt would taste military defeat by
the French who would occupy the country for a certain length of time.

some Copts were favored by the French but to embrace the French to openly was to
court disaster. After the defeat Muhammad Ali began building factories in order
to make modern weapons . His drive for modernization would continue under Abbas
his Grandson and successors. They would also send Egyptian students to Europe to
study Euripean war technology . Copts were almost never selected.

As history progressed Egypt would have to deal with it's Coptic issue . The
Islamist wound say that the Copts were treated well and were part and parcel if
the Egyptian people. The Copts would have a different view of events.

With British intervention and the insertion of missionaries the Copts would face
even further challenges. The British did not favor the Copts in fact foreign
powers over looked then sometimes in favor of Armenians and Syrian Christians.

Protestant missionaries would pose another challenge of pulling people away from
the church through their modern education . Pope Kyrillos the fourth, Demetruous
and Kyrillos the fifth would deal with the Protestants . They would upgrade
Coptic infrastructure and education .

Along the way the clergy and the secular organization. Called the Milli would
vie for control over Church assets. It was a battle that involved not only lay
people but sometimes Egyptian authorities .

Another movement that would revitalize the Coptic Church was the Sunday school
movement. This was a movement sort of started by Bishop Samuel. This brought
about a renewal and return to the roots and an accompanying explosion of Coptic
scholarship. It also brought in new resources to help infrastructure.

king Farouk tried to use an Islamic approach to unify Egypt. Upon his overthrow
Nasser would engage in Sicialism and pan Arab unity. This helped the clergy and
the pope . With Sadat who courted the Muslim Britherhood things would get worse
for the Copts. Pope Shenouda and the Copts were more assertive against this.
Sadat would banish Shenouda to a monastery. After Sadat's assassination by the
Muslim Brotherhood, Mubarak would ascend and he tried to work with the Copts.
Following his ouster the Copts found themselves at the mercy of the mob . The
Copts are leaving Egypt and only the impoverished remain . The Muslim
brotherhood does not want to kill them they just want them to know their place.
Or so they say.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Spring of Everlasting Life

Tuck EverlastingTuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wonder what it is like to live forever and be totally impervious to pain or destruction. The Tuck family knows all too well what it is like. They drank from the fountain of youth and now they are unable to die. Would you like it not to age? Sometimes I think I would but living forever…I do not think so.
Mae Tuck is going to pick her two sons up at the edge of the Treegap woods. The two brothers are out traveling the world, taking part in wars and other activities humans take part in. Remember that back then everything was horse and buggy and much like the wild west. Mean while at the Foster’s House young Winnie is growing tired of her life and all it’s rules. She wants to wander and see things. In her front yard musings she befriends a toad who she talks to and the toad does not answer back. A strange man appears asking her about the Tuck family. Thing is no one knows who the Tuck family is because they lead an isolated life out in the Foster’s wood.
It is while speaking with the grandmother, that the stranger hears a music box. The stranger knows the tune. The Grandmother thinks it is elves playing the music. She can remember it going back a way in time. Interesting to note that elves were known for playing music and making off with children.
The next day Winnie plucks up the courage to go exploring into the wood. It is there that she discovers the Tucks. She ends up going to their house somewhat against her will and being treated rather well. It is while spending time with the Tuck’s that she learns their secrets. The stranger causes some mayhem and Mae gets arrested for killing him. Of course she is immortal and cannot die. None the less Winnie helps her escape.
The short story ends with the Tucks coming back decades later seeing how the town has changed. They also visit Winnies grave stone. She died a devoted mother and grandmother. Bit sad of ending.
This edition was published by McDougal Little and is used for Middle School children. It has some cool essays in the back that discuss immortality and never being able to die including one by Ray Bradbury. After you read this you will realize that it is not fun to live forever.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Nectar of the Gods

Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and HerbcraftPharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft by Dale Pendell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Poison have been used by seekers of wisdom for thousands of years. Ever since early prehistoric times the poison and the allies of the plant world have been teaching mankind sometimes directly and sometimes through animals. Dale Pendell has written a nice compendium of these poisons. Based on years of research and experimentation Dale describes the chemistry of these allies, how they are used by indigenous societies and how we may prepare them for today’s usage. The author also gives us associations connected with these plant allies that would jibe well with anyone who is interested in alchemy.
The allies are broken up into five allies and they are inebrienta,phantastica, excitianta,thanatopathia and Eurphorica. More than several allies are discussed many of which we are familiar with. Marijauna,wine, absinthe,mugwort,ether, laughing gas, opium and laudanum just to name a few. Read this book and you will get a glimpse into the history of these allies as well as an insight into their benefits and pitfalls.
The author uses poetic insight to inspire your imagination while you are reading. A huge plus and one factor that would encourage me to read the next two volumes of his work. While I am not sure I would wish to indulge in the poison path. As marijuana leaves me rather paranoid and reclusive. I hate being trapped in my own imagination. Ether and laughing gas do not seem a safe bet to abuse or use regularly. Forget about Opium and Laudanum as the poppy is not legal here in the states. Nicotine can be deadly with just one or two drops. It was used to generate a religious high. If I can try without smoking it hey I might be game.
Parts of the last section speak about The Greenman whose face it seems is on every cathedral and building in Europe some would call him Osiris or Robin Hood maybe even Dionysus. He is the god of revelry and intoxication. Highly recommended read.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Call of GodThe Call of God by Ex Preacher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Do you hear the call of god?Can you hear his whisper in your ear ? Many have heard the call of god and they answered the call by engaging in service to their church . This can be done by tithing, missionary work or volunteering.

But what happens when a committed Christian, a formor preacher no less, doubts his faith and has questions . Usually he gets attacked and scorned . The faith he had was supposedly imperfect. Yet they totally did believe .

The preachers have bags of tricks to lure in the gullible . One is to go around visit churches and tell the home ministers son that he had been chosen by god to do something great.

For many Christians the real eye opener is when they experience hardship and call out to god.No one answers. God is testing their faith. But we cannot test God, despite that the church says we can.

If a parent were to behave towards their children the way God behaves toward us they would be locked up as abusive parents. The bible does not conform to scientific evidence . Christians are afraid of being separated from God. That is why they fear those who decinvert. The Church like all religious institutions is filled with hypocrisy and lies. Rapists and criminals are welcomed back into congregations while victims of abuse are shunned.

The short book is very convincing for those who want to leave the church or any other form of organized religion. Whether it shakes my belief in a higher power that is another question. Very good book.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Arabian Khazars

>The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam by Glen Warren Bowersock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is not well known but before the advent of Islam during a time of upheaval and war between the Persian Empire and the Byzantines, there was a militant Jewish Kingdom in Southern Arabia. This kingdom was called the Himyarite and it’s location was in Yemen. I have always been fascinated with Yemen and all aspects of its culture, including their own minorities the Yemenite Jews.
Across the Red Sea from this kingdom was Ethiopia, whose capital was in Axum. They were a Christian country. Back in those times most Christians were allied with the Byzantines while Pagan were divided. The Jews both in Israel/Palestine and Yemen were allied with the Persians. This Christian country would eventually over take the Jewish Kingdom of the Himyarites. It was these event that would help lead up to the ad vent of Islam. Seems that everyone back then was rather hardline.
Prior to full independence the Himyarite were dominated by the Kingdom of Axum. The reason why Axum left the Himyarites was that problems were brewing in Ethiopia. This enabled the Himyaarite to taste some freedom for a bit. But there was always Christian agitation, and the fomentation of rebellion. Christians acts of terrorism were occurring on Jewish Himyarite soil. So Joseph Dhu Nawwas retaliated by storming Najran and locking all the Christians in a Church and burning it with them inside. This sparked the Axumite invasion of Himyar.
The main account of this invasion was told by a travelling historian named Cosmas several years after the invasion and by then the Himyarites were pretty much history. King Kaleb king of Axum. Sat on a throne that was located in Adulis. Adulis was some 20 miles north of an Ethiopian harbor that emptied into the say and south from the capital of Axum. The throne had inscription that praised the king. The inscription were also in greek and had some documentation of Ptolemaic invasions of Palestine and and Mesopotamia. The Pagan Ethiopians prayed to a war god named Mahrem, a war god comparable to Aries. The inscriptions were in Greek. Apparently the Ethiopians were fond of these thrones.
After Kaleb took over Himyar he retired to a Monastery. Everntually Abraha would take over Himyar by force and he was not the best leader. In either case the Himyarites never regained control of their land.
Joseph Dhu Nawas fought back as well he could. Even erected a chain to stop the incoming ships. He would be last seen riding his horse into the sea. It is rumored that the Ethiopians were assisted by byzantine troops. Persian reinforcements never arrived to help their Jewish allies. Persia had control of it’s lands and some Arab tribes in the peninsula. Byzantium had Palestine, Egypt and their own territory. To bolster their control there was some assistance given to the new religion of Islam from the Byzantine.
All this set the stage for the coming of Islam. There was more then one hajira. The most well known is when Muhammad fled Mecca and went to Medina. The secend was when followers of Muhammad went to Axuman many remained there.
The book is short and scholarly. Most of the sources are in Syriac and are almost untrackable or too expensive to get a hold of. This does not detract from the scholarly value of the book. It is only 150 pages worth of information and over half the book is footnote. If you are expecting a long read you will be disappointed.

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Third Kingdom

The Third Kingdom (Richard and Kahlan, #2)The Third Kingdom by Terry Goodkind
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leaving off where the Omen Machine ended both Kahlan and Richard are severely wounded from their encounter with Jitt the Hedgmade. When her sown shut mouth was opened death escaped into the world and infected Richard and Kahlan. The clock is ticking they both must get to a containment field ASAP to get healed. Only one problem where is everybody else. Kahlan is unconscious and Richard is restrained and wounded. He is being held captive by two people who want to eat him. Richard does manage to get free and with the help of a neighboring village he fights off his attackers.
At the village, youn g Samantha a healer does her best to heal Richard and Kahlan but she can only do so much. While at the village Richard is attacked by two of the risen dead. Zedd, Cara and Nicci are being held in the third kingdom and Richard must go there and rescue them.
As much as this book is a sequel to the “Omen Machine” it is also a sequel to the ebook “The First Confessor” going back to the first war with the Old World it was emperor Saluchan who crafted the risen dead and the half people. The half people had no souls and wanted one so they would devour people to get one. It never worked and they got out of control. Of course that was long ago and Saluchan has been dead a while and the half people were imprisoned in the “Third Kingdom”
Hannis Arc is the mastermind of all the evil and he does have plans. While Richard and Samantha are in the third kingdom they are captured and it is Richard’s blood that is used to revive Emperor Saluchan. Richard is captured but he does find a a way to break free, Kahlan is captured but we all know that in the end Ricahard rescues her. As for the final battle between Richard, Hannis and Saluchan guess you will have to read to find out.
I have said earlier that they should let Richard and Kahlan live out the rest of their years in peace and quiet so a new seeker can take over but this book was really good. Engrossing read that takes you on a roller coaster ride from start to finish. Terry Goodkind’s writing has improved immensely. Keep em coming.
Talk of the walking dead and half people that devour people reminds me of zombies. Seems like Terry Goodkind has jumped on the Zombie bandwagon and incorporated it into his work. If it is not original then at least it is entertaining.

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Animal Magic

Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal MagicFang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic by Lupa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lupa writes a fairly simple to follow book about how to connect to the animal spirits. I like books that are easy to comprehend and do not go over the head of the reader. I also do not like it when it is so simple that you do not even learn anything. This fights right perfectly in the groove.
Lupa starts off with telling everyone that she is neo pagan and that she practices chaos magic. Chaotes or practioitioener of Chaos magic do what works for them. While being a neo pagan Lupa at the same time reminds the reader to be critical of neo pagan sources as they often have their facts mixed up.
She does learn from Paleo Paganism but then does her own things and advises the reader that it is ok to do this. Her form is the wolf. This is her primary totem that stays with her for her entire life. Her secondary totem is the cougar that comes when it is needed then goes away. The tertiary is one that is sought out. What is the origin of totems? Ancient may have thought that they descended from certain animals or that they contacted the master spirit who gives them luck hunting a species in return for recognition, honor and offering.
Lupa laments how misunderstood the wolf , a misunderstanding that has led to a genocide of the species and unfair hunting practices. When being chosen by a totem or looking for a tertiary one is advised to do research on the animals. Got to know what one is dealing with. Animal knowledge is especially crucial in choosing a familiar. A familiar is not the same as a totem. A familiar helps the wizard perform magical actions and gain spiritual enlightenment. Once can not coerce an animal to be a familiar. This must be in the animals will. Familiars can be spirit form, physical or even created much like a servitor.
Cryptozoology is the study of hidden species like big foot or the chupacabra. When cannot tell if they are in fact real or imagined. The fact that they have been created and used means they are powerful and useful. Bestiaries with dragons and unicorns may be fictional, real or an exaggeration. Non ethe less they can be used for magical action. It is questionable how much spiritual inofmration they can provide as they are not real and not from this real.
When looking for characteristics or working with energy can make up creatures or pull from ciftional sources. Remember that fiction is another form of myth used to convey truth. This section delves into Chaos and Pop Cultural magic.
The last part of the book tells about using animal parts for talismans. It is a rather detailed examination on how to clean and work with the parts and the spiritual ramification. Finally there is animal sacrifice. Once again that is up to you. They advocate neither way but tell the pro and con of the concept. This would have been an awesome book but there were no photos on the kindle edition. Where the photos should have been placed there was a crossed out camera. The publishers could have done better then that.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Three Rays of Inspiring Magick

Well Christopher has went and done it again, he wrote another awesome book. Basing this book on a theory put forward by Helena Blavatsky in Theosophy and later expounded upon by Alice Bailey Christopher explains how we too can use the three rays to improve or use for or own magic. Theosophy is based primarily on Eastern Philosophy and mysticism and translated into modern western terms. Theosophy is also one of the building blocks for Modern Ceremonial Magic and present day Wicca. Most people are very unaware of this. I would recommend studying up on theosophy especially in light of the fact that Wicca is changing rather rapidly in Neo-Wicca and a lot is changing. What this book does is to weave various different strands into a system of magic that has bits and and pieces from Modern Ceremonial Magick, Shamanism, Kundalini, Hinduism, traditional British witchcraft and Conjure Magick. This book has lots of information and the author Christopher Penczak is well read and well studied. A lot of information though can be both a good thing and a bad thing. As stated in the introduction modern witches today have a huge bag of tricks or tools to choose from but they do not always work well or go together in a working philosophy or theology. The first ¾ of the book reads rather smoothly and everything seems systematic and useable but after75% of the book the reader feels over whelmed and swamped with just too much information and once again taken from many threads that are attached to the philopsy of the three ways. The three rays of Theosophy are three in number. The first one is read and it represents will. This ray is normally associated with warriors and kings and is meant to embody true purpose. In modern times this translates into politicians, explorers and executives. Since this is will this will normally correspond to working with angels. Angel work is done in Enochian or Ceremonial Magick. The second ray is that of love and is the color of blue and corresponds to Christ like love which is healing all accepting. The third ray is yellow and it represents intelligence. Since there are three rays one will not be syurprised that everything goes by threes in this book. The Goddess can be described in three and as can deity in general. Pulling from Modern Druidic Religion. Oak trees are strong and powerful and works with will , sky gods and Kings. Ash has association with Faery Realms. The Ash which acts as a gateway between our world and the spirits is used for intelligence. Hence the names Straight Path, Bent Path and Crooked path correspond in 123 order. Spiritual anatomy both within ourselves and without happens of a level of three. We are seen a a microcosm of the universe. As Above so below. If we want to effect change then we must be prepared to make changes internally in our own consciousness and energy system before we can hope to have them manifest in the outer world. The three worlds we are used to are the upper world of Gods and Angels, the Middle Earth being where we live and the lower world which consist of the world of the dead. It corresponds well with trees who have branches reaching to the heavens , trunk place in our present world and the roots going down to the underworld. The book makes full use of techniques from Kabballah, Druididism and Faery lore . There are mediations and rituals which one will find very use ful. The information can get over whelming but worth the read.


Holy Morroccan Sage engaged in Prayer

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One blond hair blue eyed Calfornian who totally digs the Middle East.